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Titans rookie OT Jaelyn Duncan thrives in first career start

Have the Titans found a potential solution to their offensive tackle woes?

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Carolina Panthers v Tennessee Titans Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images

Tennessee Titans rookie offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan made his first career start in Sunday’s 17-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Duncan played all 53 snaps. He handled himself appropriately.

Duncan’s blocking responsibilities were split into 29 pass blocking-snaps, and 24 run-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Duncan was credited with allowing three pressures, two quarterback hits, and one hurry. Duncan didn’t give up a sack, but he was whistled for a penalty. PFF assigned him a pass-blocking grade of 47.1, and a run-blocking grade of 69.4. The latter represents a season-high grade for the former Maryland standout.

My eye test didn’t agree with PFF’s assessment. Outside of the penalty and a small handful of losses in pass protection, I thought Duncan was solid and steady. Titans starting quarterback Will Levis was only sacked on one occasion, and wasn’t under routine pressure, which is a welcomed development. Derrick Henry rushed for two touchdowns and 76 yards. Sunday was arguably the best performance Tennessee’s offensive line has put forth this season, and it’s no coincidence that Duncan contributed to that.

The former Maryland standout strung together various solid reps against Panthers EDGE Brian Burns, who is a premier pass rusher that will soon earn $25-plus million annually.

The No. 188 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft became the fifth tackle to start for the Titans this season, joining Andre Dillard, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Chris Hubbard, and Dillon Radunz. Albeit via a small sample size, Duncan has arguably been Tennessee’s best tackle.

The Titans will continue evaluating Duncan down the conclusion of the 2023 campaign. The franchise is currently slated to enter the offseason with approximately $100 million in financial flexibility and several needs across their offense. If Duncan develops into a long-term solution at one of the tackle spots, the Titans could scratch off a need from their offseason wishlist.